Introduction of cotton crop in the North West of Guinea - Organization of a new supply chain

Intervention, from 1987 to 1992 in the Republic of Guinea on behalf of the French Company for the Development of Textile Fibers (CFDT). We were in charge of creating and implementing the Rural Development Project in the prefectures of Gaoual and Kundara in the North West of the country. The project was funded by the Caisse Centrale de Coopération Economique (today the French Development Agency) and aimed at raising the income of farmers in this region by using cotton farming as a locomotive to improve food crop yields, diversify farmers'sources of income and boost their organization. Our intervention covered:

 

  • The establishment of project's teams and infrastructures;

  • The introduction and development of cotton crop as well as support for food crops grown in rotation with cotton;

  • The training of producers and the supporting to the establishment of professional organizations;

  • The setting up of the logistic to supply producers with inputs and equipment;

  • The setting up of the logistic to purchase, collect and gin the cotton and export fiber and seeds.

 

Starting from scratch, production reached 1,600 tons after 3 years.

production coton Guinée-marché coton à Gaoual
production coton Guinée-bales en attente à Velingara

Establishment of infrastructures; a prerequisite for the implementation of rural development project and the development of cotton crop in the North West of Guinea:

When we arrived, the Gaoual and Kundara Rural Development Project only existed on paper. Its team consisted of an expatriate manager, a volunteer and an officer from the Ministry of Agriculture of Guinea, seconded to the project. In parallel with investigations and awareness-raising work with the villagers, this small team has:

 

  • Selected the future technicians of the project among the agents of the Ministry of Agriculture and trained them, in particular about the cotton agronomy;

 

  • Searched for buildings to temporarily install the project teams in Gaoual and Kundara;

 

  • Built houses, offices, workshop and warehouses in Gaoual and Kundara;

 

  • Gradually purchased the equipment necessary for the project's activities (vehicles, IT and office equipment, power generator, etc...).

Introduction and development of cotton cropping in the North West of Guinea:

Although not grown in this area of Guinea, the cotton was not unknown to farmers since it was present in the neighboring countries: Senegal, Guinea Bissau and Gambia and in the Kankan region in the East of the Republic of Guinea. Indeed, the Kankan cotton project provided support for the development of cotton production in Gaoual and Kundara.

 

The first step was the identification of areas favorable to the cultivation of cotton and the validation of the agronomical cotton itinerary adapted to this region. Meetings in the villages then made it possible to identify the farmers volunteers for a first test campaign of 100 ha. This campaign served as a demonstration and allowed us to :

  • Build trustful relationships with the villagers essential for the realization of the feasibility study of the rural development project;

 

  • Familiarize the project's teams with the different stages of a cotton campaign and particularly, the measurement of the cotton plots, the monitoring of the various cultivation operations and the updating of planters' supervision files as well as the distribution and application of seeds, fertilizers, sprayers and pesticides and finally organizing market places to purchase the cotton.

 

The other cotton campaigns were carried out according to the same agenda:

  • Meetings in all the villages to assess the previous campaign jointly with farmers and explain the modalities of the upcoming campaign;

 

  • Census of producers wishing to grow cotton;

 

  • Sending the inputs to the villages and maintenance operation of sprayers and weighing scales;

 

  • Delimitation of cotton fields into 1/4 hectare plots;

 

  • Training of the  producers, organization  of demonstrations plots, monitoring of cultivation operations;

 

  • Counting the cotton capsules to predict the volumes of cotton to be harvest;

 

  • Organizing the markets places to purchase the cotton and pay the farmers.

production coton Guiné- récolte coton à Gaoual

Organizing the purchase of raw cotton and its ginning:

The first harvest was processed at Gaoual and Kundara. Pending the creation of producers' groups able to take responsibility  of organizing and holding the markets and the purchase of cotton from producers, teams made up of project's agents carried out these tasks.

Once purchased, the raw cotton was transported to Gaoual by private trucks. It was then ginned using a small 32 saws gin and a low pressure hydraulic press. This "mobile ginnery" was assembled and  mounted on a trailer by the Kankan cotton project. The bales of fiber and the cotton seeds were sent to Kankan. Bales have been reconditioned to international standard and exported after quality control and classification.

 

Production increased rapidly to reach 1600 tons on 1446 ha after 3 years. From the second campaign, the use of the small mobile ginnery was no longer possible and we organized the evacuation of raw cotton from the villages to the SODEFITEX ginning factory in Vélingara, Senegal. This required the establishment of a dedicated logistics on dirt roads crossing the borders of Guinea, Guinea Bisssau and Senegal. We mainly used a fleet of private carriers from Gaoual, Kundara and Labé. Fibers and seeds were exported via Dakar by SODEFITEX on behalf of Guinea. A seed multiplication plan has been implemented using F1 seeds supplied by SODEFITEX, which also processed the seeds necessary for the project

Production Coton Guinée-transport coton vers marché coton-Gaoual
Production Coton Guinée-coton graine sur claie-Kundara
Production Coton Guinée-pesée coton sur marché coton-Kamélé
Production Coton Guinée-Chargement coton graine sur marché coton-Gaoual